FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live – Fargo Police officers and civilian employees have quit their jobs in less than two years. Many of them blame the toxic, dictatorship-like environment at work.
Valley News Live has obtained exit interviews which show that 35 department members have resigned in the time since Chief David Zibolski assumed office as FPD chief in October 2020. Many of these resignations were due to issues with Zibolski’s leadership. One person wrote, The Fargo Police Department has been in crisis and Chief Zibolski refuses to admit it.
According to sources close to Fargo Police, at least three more employees resigned on Friday, January 14.
Seven more employees were also fired during this period. Many within the department believe that this would never have happened if the work environment or leadership had not changed.
One former officer wrote that Chief Zibolski believed the FPD were a bunch o’ bumpkins and that he was here for us to fix them.
Many officers compared Zibolskis’ leadership style to that of Keith Ternes, the former Fargo Police Chief. This could be described as a “Do as I say, but not as I do” mentality.
Fargo Police Department is not something I hate. An ex-officer wrote that I hate the toxic environment in which it operates.
I have heard the Chief describe unhappiness as people who don’t like change. People who don’t want change can leave the Department. However, if you look at all ranks and positions, civilian and sworn, there is one common factor: The Chief, one former employee wrote in an exit interview of 10 pages. Things will only get worse before they get better.
I can now say that he suffers greatly from a severe absence of leadership after a year-and-a half of his tenure, a 20-year veteran of department. He said that Zibolski’s changes in the department have resulted in a significant increase of resignations and retirements over the past 18 months.
Valley News Live has been told by officers that there are only six-seven officers per shift across the entire city. Officers tell Valley News Live that this number is often 12 or more. They also claim they are overwhelmed by calls for service.
In his exit interview, a former officer stated that we have fewer scheduled officers on the streets these days than we did ten to fifteen years ago. Despite this, the call volume is still insanely high and continues to grow exponentially every year.
Valley News Live obtained Zibolskis Annual Performance Review from Nov. 2021. This review showed little problems found by City of Fargos Human Resources Department.
As was to be expected, some staff decided to retire from the department or to find other opportunities. To ensure that his vision is realized, it is incumbent upon the Chief to continue providing leadership, support, and communication to the department.
Former civilian staff stated that Zibolski’s leadership problems are not unique to him, but also to all sergeants and supervisors in the department. One former police support specialist stated that she received little to no supervision for herself and her colleagues and that there was high turnover among supervisors.
Another former specialist in police support described the working environment as toxic and negative.
Valley News Live has heard from several former and current employees that they hope the city leaders will listen and address the many calls for help before it’s too late.
One former officer wrote that the Fargo Police Department and City Leadership need a wake-up call. We are paying for the sins of backdoor politics and the good old boy system.
In his exit interview, another officer stated that he was very concerned by the lack of oversight from Fargo City over the police department.
He wrote that it is a shame that the city has not taken the necessary steps to measure the work environment of their employees and the leadership of their departments.
Some former Fargo Police Officers have told Valley News Live that they have been working for West Fargo Police, Clay County Sheriffs Office and Cass County Sheriffs Office since late last fall. Valley News Live has heard from at least three officers that they are considering leaving Fargo Police to work for another agency. However, they delay this move because they are concerned about the safety of the community due to the low staffing.
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